Hollywood China Bistro (HCB), the restaurant inside Universal Studios Singapore, has closed its doors – with the last day or service on 31 July 2017. It had been a regular fixture since the park soft opened in 2010.
A popular spot for planned gatherings and events, Hollywood China Bistro began as one of only two table service restaurants in Universal Studios Singapore (the other being KT’s Grill).
It had all the bells and whistles you’d associate with fancy traditional dining places. Wood-themed interiors, hanging lanterns with warm lights, banquet tables and wooden chairs, the works. It served Cantonese cuisine with a selection of roast meats (some raved about the duck), stir-fried dishes and the quintessential dim sum. For guests who have been on their feet for most of the day, the chance to be waited upon was certainly a plus.
The restaurant also served as one of many locations within USS where students come to learn. In the first year of the aRWSome Apprenticeship programme, which lets students follow mentors and take hands-on roles within a discipline, the students underwent training at many F&B outlets in the park. Hollywood China Bistro was one of these.
Then in early 2015, the restaurant underwent a change. Out went the full service fancy dining, replaced by what falls into a quick service eatery category. Self service became the order of the day. Guests would make their orders at the cashier and pick up the ready dishes at the food counters. Out went the big round tables where 10 can sit comfortably, replaced by square tables for four.
Perhaps it was meant to create a faster in-out experience, which better fits the theme park experience. Maybe it was to cover for a manpower crunch in the service industry. Possibly business intelligence showed that big dining groups were disappearing, and smaller tables were more efficient.
Whatever the reasons, Hollywood China Bistro made the change with almost no fanfare. It simply took on the ‘improved’ version one day.
Like that day two years ago, the closing of Hollywood China Bistro on 31 July 2017 happened clinically and quietly. Oh, there were rumours for weeks that changes were going to happen. But a lone email one afternoon two days before, made it official. And the Bistro is now no more.
StarBot Café has now taken on the role of quick-service traditional Chinese outlet, and will gradually reintroduce some of HCB’s signature dishes. StarBot Café’s previous menu will be phased out.
The HCB service staff has also been reassigned to other outlets within the park. F&B Assistant Unit Manager Jazz Kam, who started with Hollywood China Bistro from 2010, says she will miss the fun and warmth of running operations and events with the HCB team. She is now based in Casa Del Wild, a stone’s throw away.
Works are ongoing to transform the space to “new exciting offerings”. Word is that once the changes are complete in mid-October, the space won’t be an F&B outlet anymore. We’ll know more in October. Stay tuned.